It’s common for organizations to struggle with cross-functional alignment, collaboration, and knowledge sharing across information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) teams. A lack of cooperation and trust between functions leads to inconsistencies in technical standards, cloud-based solutions, and cybersecurity policies, which can impact an industrial organization’s security posture and cyber risk. In addition, organizations undergoing broader digital transformation initiatives have trouble scaling these programs to achieve significant operational or financial benefits because the IT and OT stacks are siloed. This results in organizations struggling to integrate and scale legacy solutions across their operations.

Each side can no longer ignore the other because new technologies are required to address a rapidly evolving global workforce and the pressures of increasing industrial productivity to remain competitive. New technologies incorporate or are built on foundations that are the domain of the IT team (like the cloud, cybersecurity, and integrated platforms) and may require skills outside the OT domain. Unfortunately, many industrial companies still rely on bespoke, highly customized on-premises software systems running on local servers that have significant limitations.

Faced with these realities, industrial companies need to adopt a cloud-based approach to their operations in their digital transformation journey. A SaaS smart manufacturing platform provides software, the latest computing hardware, and a security support team with experts to monitor systems and protect data. SaaS in the cloud runs in regional data centers, can be deployed to multiple sites faster, and provides a lower total cost of ownership as customers can reduce hardware, software, and the need for IT on-site domain expertise.

For example, Rockwell Automation offers Plex, a multi-tenant SaaS, cloud-native smart manufacturing offering that includes fully integrated, easy-to-deploy solutions for advanced manufacturing execution systems (MES), quality management systems (QMS), supply chain management (SCM), asset performance management (APM), and production monitoring. Plex is modular and gives manufacturers the flexibility to implement one, many, or all the available manufacturing solutions, providing a simple path to growth.

Rockwell Automation has a long-standing strategic partnership with Microsoft focused on delivering cloud-based solutions to manufacturers. Together, Microsoft’s secure global cloud infrastructure, Rockwell Automation’s industry expertise, and the Plex smart manufacturing platform deliver industry-relevant solutions that empower customers and deliver business outcomes such as improved productivity, yield, inventory management, traceability, and quality/compliance management.

Automotive suppliers can deploy Plex QMS initially in as little as five weeks, increase adoption across their manufacturing network, and continue to reap the rewards of regular software updates.

  • Plex is an approved platform that supports Toyota’s Supplier Visualization Initiative, which provides greater visibility and control of the Toyota supply chain initiative. Toyotetsu America (TTAI) has worked closely with Plex and Toyota to enable integration of the Toyota Production System throughout its supply chain.
  • Italy-based commercial and industrial tire maker Prometeon uses Plex QMS to standardize quality management across its global operations.
  • Plex QMS had compliance enhancements in September 2022 to meet the updated Ford Motor Company Customer-Specific Requirements for IATF 16949:2016.
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